San Jose Sharks Continued Struggle in Overtime and Shootouts

SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 23: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks with a shoot-out attempt against the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center on December 23 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 23: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks with a shoot-out attempt against the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center on December 23 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images) /

While maintaining a comfortable position in the Pacific Division standings, the San Jose Sharks face an unnoticed danger down in the depths: Overtimes and shootouts. It’s time for the Sharks to kick the energy level up and take control of their playoff position down the stretch.

The San Jose Sharks have had their success in regulation with 20 wins and 13 losses. A fruitful month of December with plenty of action on the road boosted their record away from SAP center over the .500 mark to 10-9-5.

More impressively, at home ice, the Sharks are 12-4-4 and have yet to lose a contest by more than a four-goal margin.

However, when it comes to the extra effort after 60 minutes, the San Jose Sharks find themselves at the bottom of the ocean. 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts – an area of expertise that has historically trended upward for head coach Peter DeBoer’s crew – has taken a hit during the 2018-2019 campaign. As the season turns the page into 2019, finding their groove in extended periods is a New Year’s Resolution that the Sharks can’t let spill over.

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Through 43 games, the San Jose Sharks have fallen four times in 3-on-3 mayhem. When it’s not settled after those five minutes, the puzzle is still a mystery as San Jose has yet to light the lamp in three shootout losses this season.

The San Jose Sharks have the talent. They have the speed and strength on the wings. They have the witty stick-handlers and cannon-blasting defensemen. They have an elite goalie who makes miraculous saves in big moments, but comes up just a short on the unlikely scoring scenarios.

It just doesn’t add up.

Well, for starters, this isn’t the first time the Sharks have began the second half of a season without a winning overtime (and shootout) record. In fact, it occurred just last season. San Jose had a combined 5-6 record in those scenarios at the midway point. The Sharks doubled their win total in the overtime column and needed each and every point to secure a spot in the top 3 of the division standings.

The Sharks have also faired well with the shootout rounds. Last year, the San Jose used a total of eight skaters in shootouts, racking up 16 goals in 38 attempts. Taking it one step further, Sharks goaltenders stopped nearly 70% of opponents’ shootout tries.

While shootouts show off skill and determination, it is overtime where it counts most at the end of the season. Playoff pictures can change as the result and ROWs (regulation-overtime wins) have the last say in a two-way tie in points for who reigns on top.

Currently, the San Jose Sharks have 22 ROWs. Looking at the rest of Western Conference, the Sharks rank fifth with three less than the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames and one below the Vegas Golden Knights. At the top of it all with a league-leading 28 ROWs are the Tampa Bay Lightning, who carry a seven-game win streak into SAP Center Saturday.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, we know the Sharks can compete 3-on-3 with their comfortable top-six and top D pairs. It just comes down to one factor: Energy.

Energy is the missing ingredient for a recipe of success in overtime. The San Jose Sharks have to execute short, but smart shifts that flash brilliance in odd-man rushes and jumping back on defense.

Furthermore, Martin Jones needs to rise up from below sea level rather than come down to Earth.

Jones is sinking. However, a stellar second half, as we’ve seen he’s capable of in the last couple seasons, can prove the 29-year-old true potential to hold down the fort. …

For shootouts, it’s hard to believe the Sharks are 0-for-9 in one-on-one situations. Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski and go-to marksman Logan Couture have a combined 0-6 on shooting attempts.

To solve this complication, it is in the Sharks best interest to give some of the young guns a shot when the time rises. Change is good and a new spin is just what the Sharks need to find the back of the net. Sharks rookie call-up Lukas Radil, for example, could be the one that breaks the drought to spark some new moves. It’s always the quiet ones that can come up clutch in the most unlikely moments and Radil deserves a opportunity to do so with five goals now in his freshman campaign.

Timo Meier, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow have also proven their breakaway speed is quite prominent and productive. I’d give Erik Karlsson a crack at it for the first time in teal uniform. His combination of speed and stickhandling meets no match to any other defenseman in the league. A new look is all it takes for this issue to go down the drain.

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Now, as the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff. While it may be seem insignificant touching the second half, the final two weeks of the regular season may have a different story to tell. All in all, whether it’s in regulation or overtime, a win is a win and the Sharks seek as many as they can collect. A little extra effort and throwing in curveball every now and then is just what the doctor ordered.